I get frustrated when I hear someone put their knee issues down to getting older, or any musculoskeletal issue for that matter. Even more frustrating is that there seems to be an acceptance, an inevitability, that nothing can be done about it.
We are at that time of the year when many of us who made some new year's resolutions are beginning to flag with our intentions. If one of those resolutions was to get fit, well done you. These days finding the time and the motivation to keep going whilst leading busy lives can be a challenge. Unfortunately, we are often undoing some of the benefits reaped in our exercise time by returning to our sedentary lives because our non- exercise time makes up a much much greater proportion of our day…
You can’t fail to have noticed the sensationalist headline “sitting is the new smoking”. You know the one, designed to put the fear of God into us and make us feel even worse about the fact that we are not moving enough. It’s true, of course, we are not moving enough but many of us who are desk bound simply don’t know where to start. In this video, I give you a simple postural adjustment to bring more to your sitting time. The first step is to sit on the front of your chair, not into the back of it.
As I said in the video, it’s not sitting that’s the issue, it’s the time spent in a single position that’s problematic for us. There is no one best way to sit but sitting in such a way that your body has to do more work is going to be more beneficial to you.
Get comfortable being on your sitting bones supporting your own bodyweight. You will no doubt feel yourself slump back into your chair because it’s what your body knows and has adapted to but you’re going to retrain yourself to do some work while just sitting there!
It will be impossible to sit better if you are in a bucket style seat, in other words, where the back of the chair is lower than the front. Find a chair that has a seat parallel to the ground.
Then get up and move frequently :-)
Footwear can have a negative impact on not just the feet but our knees, hips, pelvic floor and all the way up to the head and neck. Your shoes are shaping you and a chronic issue in the body far away from your feet can often be improved by transitioning to more minimal footwear…
It takes an inordinate amount of mindfulness to get movement back into our lives these days but walking is one of the easiest and best ways to do it. The benefits of walking are many and well documented. The notion of 10,000 steps a day has crept in as a daily movement prescription and I love the way that various devices like Fitbit can motivate someone to get up every hour to hit their number but we can do better than 10,000 steps!
May is one of my favourite months. Spring turned into summer over the bank holiday weekend and it's been great to shed the layers, free our feet, get outside and soak up some vitamin D.
Movement as opposed to exercise is something I write about a lot. Exercise alone doesn't seem to make us healthier and use it or lose it remains true. With that in mind, I strive to find ways to make any activity, whether that be working at my laptop or a household chore more movement rich.
Strength is one of those words that gets people’s attention particularly if they feel they lack it. There is no denying that being strong feels good. More than that though, mobilising our upper bodies sets us on a path to improving breast health, better bone density and enhanced breathing. Who doesn’t want that? Upper body strength in particular is a concern for many people, but for women in particular. If the question is how to achieve it, the answer invariably seems to be, “I need to go to the gym and lift some weights.”
Belated Happy New Year! I hope that you are settling into 2018 and the dark January days are not getting you down too much. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reflecting on 2017 rather than setting any New Year’s resolutions. It's been a worthwhile experience looking back at what I have achieved, focusing on the positives rather than what I didn’t do or didn’t get done. Try it, I’ll bet you’ve had a much better year than perhaps you thought!
I see so many people with chronic foot problems that I thought I would offer you a simple foot exercise that you might like to try. It can be done anytime you are standing or sitting and can help improve foot function. You just need to take your shoes off to do it!
On this date last year I published a blog post titled Fit for What? which clearly struck a chord because it was shared widely and read thousands of times. I talked about why I had stopped running and wrote “I want to try lots of different things, move in many different ways. Climb a few trees, become less fearful of heights, play more and do it all with a body that is getting stronger not weaker with age.”
I had the pleasure of attending an Evolve Move Play seminar with Rafe Kelley a couple of weekends ago in London. Always a student of the body, I have many movement teachers who inspire me on a daily basis and Rafe is one of them. As a former runner, I came to understand how limiting only running as exercise was for my overall ability to use my body well. I had become a movement specialist, working on my running form for many years but neglecting many other forms of movement. I was movement starved in general being mostly sedentary the rest of the time.
If I had a penny for every person I hear complain about foot pain, I would be rich! As someone who has previously suffered with chronic foot pain for years, I understand how frustrating and debilitating foot problems can be. When our feet hurt, our whole body hurts. Wearing stiff, cushioned, positive heeled shoes with narrow toe boxes has not only changed the shape of our feet but also our bodies and indeed how our whole body functions. Plantar fasciitis, neuromas, bunions, hammer toes, metatarsalgia, to name a few, are just some of the many foot complaints I come across.
You may have heard the term a movement practise but wondered what it means. Many years ago I was introduced to the idea of a mindful movement practise through Chi Running. The value of a practise became clear to me as I learnt to truly enjoy running and eventually run injury free over time by paying close attention to how I moved. This was the beginning of getting to know my body better and learning how to move well in all sorts of ways.
For many years I have been a distance runner, I loved it. I worked on my form every day, running defined me. I would often be greeted by a stranger when I was out and about “Not running today?” Although it came to be something I loved to do, I also assumed that an added bonus was that it was good for my health, that I was fit. Most people who know me think of me as fit and therefore healthy.
As much as I would like to spend more time outdoors in nature, stuff needs to get done, the house needs cleaning from time to time, etc. In an effort to get more natural movement, I find myself looking at the household chores differently. Once something I did not look forward to, I now see housework as one way to get the thing I crave more and more - varied movement throughout the day.
I am one of those annoying people who takes up too much space in a restaurant or café and will have you tripping over the legs of my chair! Why, you ask? Most chairs are designed to make it impossible for you to sit well and have a bucket type seat. This means we have no option but to sit with our pelvis tucked under which can have negative health consequences particularly if we inhabit this position for many hours each day. So, if I find myself in a chair, I sit right out on the edge of it which allows me to sit with a neutral pelvis, gets me off my tailbone and puts me in a much better position to support my bodyweight.